For a game that boasts of mind bending gravity gameplay, what you’re presented with is not as advertised. Come take a walk with me through the rather lackluster world of “Inversion”.
First off, what attracted me to this game was the prospect of gravity shifting levels, like I came to love in games like “Prey” and even the “Dead Space” series. The whole idea of changing the world around you has always been fascinating to me. Even in most respectable space sci-fi’s we see this kind of manipulation with gravity, and I expected a similar approach in “Inversion”. I must say I wasn’t that impressed with what I ended up getting.
The game itself is a decent third person shooter. You play the character of Davis Russel, a young police officer, desperately trying to get his daughter back from the aliens who have kidnapped her. Which in any case, is as good of a back-story as any, yet in this game it just doesn’t seem all that believable. Maybe it’s the voice acting, maybe it’s the all too familiar “alien invasion”, but I had a hard time taking any of it seriously.
His stature and frame of mind eerily resembles that of COG soldier Marcus Phoenix from the “Gears of War” series. In fact, the whole setup of the game when regarding guns, features and even some of the commandos as running, seems to have loaned itself heavily to the “Gears” games. What that series did so well, “Inversion” seems to lack the passion and attention to detail.
The Lutadore – alien race who have come to earth to wreak havoc – are the enemy in this game, and you have to defeat them with the help of your partner Leo Delgado. The arrival of these foreign creatures is not the only strange thing going on in the city, in some parts of the game the levels of gravity has ceased to exist completely. You might even say they have a mind of their own, because at first glance it doesn’t feel like there is a method to the madness, gravity just goes “off the grid”, excuse the pun. The only ones that seem to have any power over this gravity phenomenon are The Lutadore, and they of course utilize it for their own benefit.
The fight must go on
Early in the game you are able to get your hands on a Gravlink, which at first doesn’t do much other than creating pockets of zero-gravity. I have to be honest and say that this immediately reminded me of “Dead Space’s” stasis module, except it wasn’t nearly as fun or creative to play with in “Inversion”. I found this to be a rather big disappointment, because instead of bringing something new to the table, the team behind “Inversion” decided to adopt a game play mechanic which worked well for someone else, slapped a new skin on it and called it something else. It feels like a cheap thrill, and thrill is putting it nicely.
My biggest problem with the game though, seems to be their intent on marketing this as a “gravity bender”. In all honesty, when the “Vector Shifts” occur (the times that these happen are almost shockingly obvious and easy to predict) it doesn’t feel like you’re standing on what used to be a wall instead of the floor. Essentially, you feel like the 90 degree angle has just been turned. It doesn’t feel mind bending or even spectacular. You could even use “Prey” as an example. Whenever the level would flip on its head, you could almost feel yourself turning upside down just like your character. When using the Gravlink, your hit/miss ratio felt extremely random and it made me turn to the “regular” weapons instead, making the game a very straight forward shooter. Even though later on you can upgrade your Gravlink, it never completely feels like a viable weapon as opposed to just using an assault rifle and picking off your enemies one by one.
So, to be quite frank, this plays like an ordinary third-person cover-based shooter. There’s nothing remotely different about this game that would set it apart from other high profile games. I tried doing co-op as well with a family member because at least that would mean I wouldn’t have to rely on the imbecilic nature of the co-op AI.
Graphics and repetitiveness
The graphics aren’t anything to write home about, nor is the music score. The voiceover work was decent enough, at least to the point where I didn’t want to skip through cut scenes. But I must say the most frightful thing about the game, and possibly quite unforgivable is the recycling of mini-boss battles. There’s essentially only so many times I want to defeat a mini-boss that every time looks the same and acts the same, in slightly different environments. In the end, doing multiplayer co-op with “Inversion” is more enjoyable than playing the campaign mode, in my humble opinion.
Considering that the game “Prey” wasn’t a huge studio venture, it did so well with what it had, which was simple mechanics and a good solid story. It’s not that I hate “Inversion” as much as I think it’s the idea of adopting so many great game mechanics and then calling them something else, while not delivering the same kind of attention to detail as the games they borrowed from. To be crass, it just feels very sloppy and looks like it was made to to earn a dollar or two with no heart for the game.
If I had to mention any redeeming quality to “Inversion” it must have to be the multiplayer modes. There is definitely fun to be had with a couple of friends and some simple deathmatch, king of the hill or the aptly named horde-mode “Survival”. Like I said, it’s not that I hate this game; I just felt it underutilized the very idea that they marketed this game with, namely the gravity bending gameplay. It doesn’t deliver, but it tries the best that it can.
Miss; If you really have to borrow from other games, make sure you improve on it instead of just calling it something else and essentially half-assing the effort. It feels cheap and the consumer hardly ever reacts well to it.
Need; I would have loved to see more diversity in mini-boss battles. Taking a cue from games like “Resident Evil 4”, “Gears of War” and even “Prey”, where the gravity bending also would have had more of an effect on what kind of enemies you were up against.